When "Bandz A Make Her Dance" topped urban radio charts earlier this month, one thing became very clear: Juicy J's solo career is not a fluke.
He's spent the past three years building a buzz with mixtapes, frequent collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, a slew of additional guest appearances, and catchy vernacular that's permeated the culture beyond music. It's all culminated in a recent signing with pop hit-maker Dr. Luke's Kemosabe record label, a branch of Columbia.
Juicy stopped by Complex to talk about the new deal, how he avoids the stigma that keeps most rap veterans from prospering in later eras, and just how much he's really into drugs.
Interview by Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo)
I’m always working, man. I want people to know that I’m fucked up, but working, too.
Seems like it. You release a lot of music.
I be dropping shit left and right.
And yet, your music promotes a—how to best describe this?—crazy party lifestyle.
I consider it everyday life, man. You never know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen.
I’ve had some straight random times in Canada before—ended up in a hot tub with two chicks. Shit happens, you know? It’s a lifestyle. I go with the flow. It’s not like anything I set up.
You've been on tour with Wiz Khalifa. Does he throw crazy parties?
Wiz has stoner nights, man.
But are they parties?
Weed parties. We turned up out there. We make good music. We been in the studio a lot, most of the time just making music. Making jams.
You're working on your debut solo album. Is it still called Stay Trippy?
Right now, yeah. I thought about changing it, but then everybody was like, "Why not? That’s you, man." I was like, "Alright, well cool."
It was a big deal when news broke that you were working with The Weeknd. Who else are you working with that we might necessarily know about yet?
I can’t reveal all the secrets. I got something so big. I want to tell you about it and I want to tell the world, but I’m going to wait. But I got some shit coming up, man. It’s going to be serious. It’s going to shock the fuck out of people.
We had a hundred dollar microphone. That’s the same vocals I used when I was in the apartment. It was ratchet. We finished the song in like an hour and a half. Mike Will did the beat, and that was it.
You’re probably going to ride "Bandz A Make Her Dance" for a while, right?
I hope so. I’m enjoying the ride right now. I don’t know how long this record is going to be on the charts, or in the strip clubs, in people’s cars, in people’s ears, but it’s looking strong right now.
Did you expect it to take off this way?
I never expected none of this. I was just doing it myself, and I just threw it out on Twitter. Now I’m in New York, everything’s looking great. New deal, new money, new groupies. I can’t complain. Everything is still surprising and shocking to me. I recorded that song in a two-bedroom apartment in D.C. I was at this chick’s apartment, and me and my engineer recorded my vocals right there.
We had a hundred dollar microphone. That’s the same vocals I used when I was in the apartment. It was ratchet. We finished the song in like an hour and a half. Mike Will did the beat, and that was it. He sent me like a bunch of tracks I would listen to through email, and I heard that one beat, I laid the vocals to it and the rest is history. Wayne hopped on the remix—everybody call it a remix, but I consider Wayne and 2 Chainz the original version, as well.
Gin has gone from stuffy to trendy, partially because you and Wiz Khalifa are so fond of it. How did that happen?
When I met Wiz, he was drinking that Bombay. He put me on that Bombay, so I started drinking it. I was like, "This is a cool little turnt up drank." I love it. It makes you wild, man. You don’t know what happened the next day. [Laughs.] It knocks you the fuck out. The camera start rolling, Bombay, let’s put it in the video. We drinking that shit. Next thing you know, everybody, they on it, man.
You need an endorsement.
Hopefully. I’m gonna start blurring the bottle out until I get an endorsement or they pay me. [Laughs.]
Since the Three 6 Mafia days, you've been a pioneer of recreational drug use. Now everyone is like: "Let's pop some Molly." How do you feel about that?
It is what it is. Just keep it 100. However you want to do it. We been doing it, and I just want to speak my mind and do me. People love it, man. I noticed a lot of things have changed—people are more open about things now. I call it “trippy music” now. I consider it a person doing what they want to do, and expressing themselves. Whether they getting high or they not getting high, they just being themselves.
Right now, with so much going on in the economy, people now want to be more entertained with drugs and strip clubs.
And right now, with so much going on in the economy, people now want to be more entertained with drugs and strip clubs. The strip clubs are selling out everywhere. Strip clubs have always been popular, but now they seem like they're more of a place to relieve your stress. There’s so much stress going on out here, and stupid shit going on in the world. Fuck being stressed out. Let’s just go to the club and turn up.
Yeah, I see more strip clubs that are almost billed as regular nightclubs these days.
It’s a club now. It’s not like, "Oh, we’re going to strip club." It’s "Oh, we going to the club." It’s a strip club, girls dancing naked in there, we hope. We going to have fun, as well. We’re going to kick it, pop bottles, enjoy ourselves. That’s what life is all about. It’s so short, and so many people are stressed out about stupid shit. I know there’s a lot of ups and downs in people’s lives going on right now, but have some fun.
What’s it like having multiple songs that are strip club staples right now?
It’s a great feeling, man. I love when they play "Bandz" like a hundred times and people turn up the same way as when they first heard it. I can’t complain, man. For me, being in this game for over 20 years and still can put out a record and it’s climbing charts, and people coming to shows, and singing word-for-word—it’s amazing. So we going to keep turning it up. We going to turn it up 'til 2050. We going to party. Never stop partying, man.
You've been in the game for so long, yet you don't have the stigma that comes with being an older rap veteran. Why is that? What is it about you that prevents you from coming across as someone who's aged?
I don’t live in the past. I don’t talk about the past as much. Lots of people live in the past. They be like, "Man, you know, I used to do this back in the day." Fuck back in the day, dog. It’s 2012. What are you doing now? I move forward. I love to hang out with people. I hang out with more young'ns. Everybody’s moving forward. Nobody’s talking about '92, or '96, or 2005, or even 2011. Everybody’s like, "What’s going on in 2012?" I move forward with the music. I move forward with the mind state. If it’s a new club popping, I’m going to that new club. I don’t try and be worried about what happened yesterday. I keep up with the times.
A lot of people out there, you talk to them, motherfuckers still be talking about it’s 2002. Niggas talking about the same shit. Like, what the fuck? I don’t do that. We can sit down and have a conversation, and I’m talking about shit that’s coming out next year and keeping up to date. Talking about that iPhone 5, niggas still talking about the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4 is like a fucking Nokia flip phone at this point.
That’s what I’m saying. I’m more like, "What’s new?" I’m not worried about that old shit. When I come around people, I’m up to date on everything. I know all the new music that’s coming out, all the stuff that ain’t came out yet. I know artists right now you never heard of that’s about to blow the fuck up. I can name them, like, by hand. And when I tell you they going to blow up, I promise you they going to blow. I’m on my game. I listen to all kinds of music. I love underground, new music that’s popping. The new shit.
If a person’s around me talking about '92, or 2005, I get away from them quickly. I don’t want to be around anybody talking about the past.
Yeah, recently you've become known for reaching out to new artists.
'Cause back in the day that’s what I did. I used to listen to what was underground, even though Three 6 Mafia was maybe here, wherever we was at. I would reach down and go to somebody that wasn’t popping, and listen to they music instead of listening to that other shit.
To me, that’s the music that’s going to be the next thing popping. And that’s how I always been. That’s why I keep my ear to the streets, and I stay so relevant. I’m on the new shit. I’m always on some new shit. Fuck the old shit. If a person’s around me talking about '92, or 2005, I get away from them quickly. I don’t want to be around anybody talking about the past.
Even as one of two rap artists to ever win an Oscar, you're like: That’s over.
I mean, I’m blessed. It’s a blessing, and I still think about it here and there, but I did that then. What am I doing now? So now maybe I’m trying to get another Oscar—get two on the shelf. I’m all about moving forward. It’s just about moving forward with me.